Lights, Camera, HYPE; SNEAKER CULTURE.

Lights, Camera, HYPE; SNEAKER CULTURE.

By Rachel S. Lyngdoh

FEATURE | JULY 28, 2020:

We have come to a point in fashion where the 'HYPE' Culture has made a massive impact. This Hype culture swept America by storm and it was from here on that the word 'hype beast' and 'hypebae' came into play. Hypebeast in very simple words and rather put bluntly is a man who is obsessed with the hype around a certain piece of fashion (clothes, shoes, accessories) and wouldn't mind paying a huge sum for that desired object. A hypebae is exactly what a hype beast is, except, of course, it's a woman this time.

This hype culture was technically brought about by smart marketing, very smart in fact. 'Supreme' is the King of the Hype market. To give you a little understanding of what is hype, hype is 'SUPREME'. The buzz around this street wear brand is phenomenal. Thanks to the likes of artists such as Kanye West, A$AP Rocky, Tyler the Creator wearing the red and white logo, the brand was injected with a level of swag that people who love the hip hop, skater, basketball community aspire to have.The resale price of a Supreme product is skyrocket high, no exaggeration. You can check StockX to confirm this. Their marketing strategy was fairly simple. Basic economics one could even say; demand and supply. Supreme's tactic was and is to create limited supply, relative to the demand. To its advantage, it worked perfectly. People would line up for exclusive drops' outside their store for days, even camp out in the cold, sun and rain. That is the kind of hype Supreme has that others don't.

Other hyped up brands include ASSC (Anti-Social Social Club), Off-white, Fragment, Travis Scott to name a few. Their products are sold at a nominal rate say $100 or $200. However, the advantage and some would argue, the disadvantage is that these products can again be resold at a price higher than the average price simply because the product is either exclusive or somewhat limited. Yes, even when it has already been worn it is sold for a hefty price.

Now, this is only a very brief introduction into the Hype world. One could also say it's just the tip of the iceberg. However, the beauty of this culture is that it is not stagnant and does not adhere to a single definition. In our culture, fashion is fast-paced and patience is going out of style—instant gratification is the popular mind-set encouraged by hype culture. We want things quick like 'How to get rich quick' or how to 'Get abs in 2 weeks.' This culture falls into a continuous pattern of looking for the next big thing, hoping to get the best out of life and getting it quick because YOLO (You only live once) right.

Along the lines of this culture also exists the next big thing that has proved to stay for a while; the sneaker community. The Northeast part of India is a hub for fashion. The choice of fashion here is not only a statement piece but boils down to the person's individuality such that the sneaker culture has intertwined itself with street style and has in ways expanded this niche market of sneakers.

A passion for sneakers is about the taste of the classics, the originals, the exclusives, and a particular brand's special identity that draws individuals together to bond over their soles. The sneaker culture here then was bound to catch up and rightfully so, it did.

Let us take a look at a few of the sneakerheads of Northeast:

ESALAN RYNJAH from Shillong, Meghalaya

Who is a sneaker head according to you?

A sneaker head is one who is part of the culture, one who understands the value and story behind every pair. Many collect sneakers and claim to be sneaker heads but that is not the case for me. The number of pairs one owns has no relevance to me; the knowledge behind the pair is what the culture is about.

How did your love for sneakers come about?

My love for sneakers started when I was in class 11 and got my first Adidas gazelles. In my first year of college, I began reading up about Jordans and Yeezys. Ultimately my love for sneakers grew as I learnt more about the journey towards the making of each particular pair for instance Jordan 1s and Sb dunks have so much heritage and theme behind each model.

What is your weird sneaker OCD?

I got a few. One is leaving the house with wipes in case something was to get my kicks dirty. The other would be heading straight for the washroom to clean my kicks after a day out. I always get a mini heart attack when my Jordans start creasing.

Was it only sneakers or a different culture that brought you to this community?

For me, it has always been sneakers, right from the start.

What are your views on female representation in sneaker culture?

Sneaker culture or street wear culture is THE CULTURE where one can freely express their form of art. So I feel it's a culture that is not dominated by gender and with the current drops, we see various female artist inspired sneakers just like the crazy pair of Air Jordan 1 mids created by Melody Eshani or even the Air Jordan 3 Vogue by Anna Wintour.

What are your views on reselling?

Reselling sneakers is a new market in India and a good market to start, getting any exclusive sneaker at retail is no brainer a profit no matter what and also if it isn't for these resellers the sneaker hype in India wouldn't grow at this rate and most of us won't be able to access most of what we have in our collection.

Are Supreme collaborations worth the hype?

Supreme is the brand that created or brought forth the hype culture but there are some sneakers or streetwear collabs that are not worth selling your cars over. They have some legendary drops but some like their recent drop with Nike Air force 1 is not worth paying 300-400$ on a pair that blank, with just a simple supreme logo on the heel.

What do you have to say to people getting into this culture?

For newcomers I would say 'Research' on the market, learn about the current retailers and resellers and never trust deals that are too good to be true cause whether it's unauthorized or "custom" it could always be fake.

IMKONG TZÜWAR from Mokokchung, Nagaland

Who is a sneaker head according to you?

My understanding of a sneaker head would be a person who knows about the sneaker culture, one with knowledge and dedication towards this passion. I believe that a sneakerhead doesn't necessarily need to own a lot of sneakers and be involved in sneaker trading as such but just understanding the elements in the culture is enough.

How did your love for sneakers come about?

I wasn't born or brought up with the sneaker culture. Nobody around me was or is a sneakerhead. I barely have any friends that wear real kicks because the idea of "If I can wear a replica for 2K then why should I wear the same original for 10K" mentality exists. I'm not proud of it but I too shared the same idea. However, it is important to note that this mentality did not come with a choice but through the circumstance of not having enough money to buy expensive kicks. I used to break-dance and in 2012 my friend gifted me a pair of Nike low trainers. They were very comfortable and they were my 'dancing shoes' for a good 5 years. Those were my first real sneakers and in 2016, I met a friend who is purely into the Hip Hop culture and introduced me into the world of sneakers. We'd travel for Jams together and it was then that I bought my very first sneaker with him, the Adidas NMD R1 PK'OG.

What is your weird sneaker OCD?

I think my weird OCD with sneakers would be taking a tissue and constantly wiping my kicks wherever I may be. (I don't know if that'll be considered an OCD)

Was it only sneakers or a different culture that brought you to this community?

My sneaker influence came from the Hip Hop culture, I used to meet people from all over the country during Jams and they would tell me about shoes that are comfortable to dance in and my MC friend who would show me shoes both of us couldn't afford.

What are your views on female representation in sneaker culture?

I've never actually looked at gender when it comes to the sneaker culture. I know a lot of girls who have taught me so much about sneakers and who have inspired me to be who I am today. But I think that women sneakerheads should be presented more into the scene because women are generally stereotyped for liking only pink shoes and heels, so working towards removing that stereotype should be a collective initiative from the whole community.

What are your views on reselling?

I'm not a fan of reselling. I'm not against it because at the end of the day if it brings food on someone else's table then I think there's nothing wrong in that.

Are Supreme collaborations worth the hype?

I'm not a supreme fan boy so no; I would say that Supreme isn't worth the money.

What do you have to say to people getting into this culture?

It's not important to own the latest and most expensive pair of kicks for the hype, go with your taste and style. 'Hyped' doesn't mean right.

 DEBASISH LALMALSAWMA DAS from Shillong, Meghalaya

Who is a sneaker-head according to you?

According to me, a sneaker-head is someone who shows a great passion and knowledge for sneakers. It does not necessarily mean to have a crazy lot of sneakers, but rather have an appreciation and love for sneakers.

How did your love for sneakers come about?

It all started back when I was about 12 years old, I saw my classmate wearing a pair of Adidas superstars. At that time I did not know whatsoever about sneakers, I'd wear whatever and didn't care much about it, but when I saw a pair of Adidas Originals Superstars for the first time, I was automatically drawn to them, I had no idea how to describe that feeling was but it felt good. I made it my mission to get those Superstars. Thankfully by the end of that year, my dream came. That's where it all started.

What is your weird sneaker OCD?

There are a couple of things that I would consider as my sneaker OCD, besides getting super irritated when I see dirty sneakers, I am also in love with the smell of a fresh pair of new kicks. Whenever I buy a new pair of sneakers, I would get them out of the box and the first thing I would do is smell them. I know this will sound very weird to people, but I'm sure many sneakerheads can relate to this.

Was it only sneakers or a different culture that brought you to this community?

Well, in the beginning, it all started through sneakers itself. But eventually it grew more as I began playing basketball and listening to rap/hip hop music. Around 2015-16 I started skateboarding and that influenced my love towards sneakers and the need to learn more about them. When I started appreciating the Nike SBs and the Jordan OG models that drew me more into the sneaker culture.

 What are your views on female representation in sneaker culture?

In my opinion, sneakers, arguably, are traditionally associated with men. Nowadays we're seeing an increasing number of women not only wearing sneakers in every setting, but making meaningful contributions to the growth and direction of sneaker culture. This is empowering because it is defying gender lines and carving out space for women in a community that has been restrictive for a very long time.

What are views on reselling?

As a student without a proper job, reselling has always been the main way to earn so that I can get the sneakers I want. Well, it all started when I got my first pair of Jordans at a discount, and I flipped them for triple the price that I paid. That's how the reselling game started for me. It isn't anything big, but I do it when I want to buy a particular sneaker for my collection. So I'd say that reselling is a very good opportunity to earn, to learn about the business aspects such as sales, how to deal with customers, how to operate, marketing and more.

Are Supreme collaborations worth the Hype?

Supreme has mastered the art of limited supply. Supreme has always maintained a small inventory, and never released a ton of pieces. It doesn't sell in large retail stores, hence keeping its availability limited. This maintained a sense of authenticity, while driving up desirability and demand. So when it comes to collaborations, the pieces that are produced seem to be more desirable and limited, therefore, creating a hype like no other. So in my opinion, certain collaborations are worth the hype.

What do you have to say to people getting into this culture?

There is always a sense of commonality, unity and love within the sneaker-head community. In a world like today, where there is so much of negativity, love for sneakers brings people together from everywhere and anywhere, it creates a bond of "acceptance, appreciation and love."

LAL SANGPUII from Aizawl, Mizoram

 Who is a sneaker-head according to you?

For me, a sneaker head is someone who collects sneakers as a hobby, someone who has legit thirst for knowledge about the origin and history of sneakers. Being a sneaker head is not about owning a huge collection, it is all about being passionate about the culture and loving the game itself. You can own two/three pairs of sneakers and still be a sneaker head.

How did your love for sneakers come about?

I was more of a loafer lover than a sneaker lover but all that changed with the purchase of my first ever Yeezy. Yeezy 500 Supermoon yellow, June 2018. I instantly fell in love with the pair… so my love for Yeezys grew and my collection currently stands at 11 pairs.

 What is your weird sneaker OCD?

I cannot stand getting creases on my toe boxes.

 Was it only sneakers or a different culture that brought you to this community?

Yes it was only the sneaker culture that brought me into the community. However my love for the culture grows as I immerse myself deeper into the game.

What are your views on female representation in sneaker culture?

I think there is a shift in the attitude towards women sneaker heads and their role in the sneaker industry. They are given wider space and larger participation. Moreover women sizes are increasingly being dropped which is a testimony that women are being more included.

What are views on reselling?

To be honest, I think resellers are spoiling the sneaker culture and making it difficult for everyone to be in the game on a larger scale and they are spoiling the market. It has become more of a game for the rich and economically better off so-called sneaker heads who mostly run after the hype.

Are Supreme collaborations worth the Hype?

I own one freaking Supreme sticker and I think that answers the question.

What do you have to say to people getting into this culture?

Well, I'd say there's room for everyone and it is never too late to start or to get into the game. The more the merrier. It is an absolute pleasure to see the community growing every day.

ADITYA SHAHI from Aizawl, Mizoram

 Who is a sneaker-head according to you?

A sneaker head is someone who knows the value of his/her sneakers and keeps them fresh. You don't have to own the latest pair or have a rack full of the latest buys, just know your pair. Quality over quantity always.

How did your love for sneakers come about?

My passion for sneakers came back in 2015 when I was in high school. The sneaker culture was already growing in Aizawl and with my Nike Kaishi the love was born.

What is your weird sneaker OCD?

I am born with OCD's so I cannot stand seeing grimy unwashed sneakers.

Was it only sneakers or a different culture that brought you to this community?

Only sneakers. I was introduced into other cultures through sneakers.

What are your views on female representation in sneaker culture?

It feels great seeing the culture grow in diversity. Sneaker culture is not only for men. Everyone is welcome and female sneaker heads in India are also growing at a high pace. So I would encourage everyone to keep spreading love and support for the community.

What are views on reselling?

Reselling markets are ruining the culture. Due to high resale prices, people assume that the sneaker game is a posh and luxurious culture which to say in reality, it is not.

Are Supreme collaborations worth the Hype?

NO, a big NO. Do not fall for the hype. Do your research, spend your money wisely and don't be a fool.

What do you have to say to people getting into this culture?

Be smart. Don't fall or chase the hype. Be humble, go slow and don't aim for the stars when you are new to the culture. As I said earlier, do your research.

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